DETROIT (June 21, 2000) - Race winners Scott Dixon (Invensys/Powerware/PacWest Lights Lola) and Jonny Kane (KOOL Lola) will lead the Dayton Indy Lights Championship to Portland International Raceway this weekend for Round Four of the 2000 ...
DETROIT (June 21, 2000) - Race winners Scott Dixon (Invensys/Powerware/PacWest Lights Lola) and Jonny Kane (KOOL Lola) will lead the Dayton Indy Lights Championship to Portland International Raceway this weekend for Round Four of the 2000 championship at the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200.
The 38-lap (74.822 miles) Dayton Indy Lights sprint race on the 1.969-mile road course is the main Sunday support race for the featured FedEx Championship Series event that runs later that afternoon. The Indy Lights green flag is scheduled to drop at 11:30 a.m. and the race can be seen in a one-hour show on ESPN2 next Saturday, July 1 at 5:30 p.m. ET.
Dixon, 19, won the year's opening races at Long Beach, April 16, and Milwaukee, June 5, while Kane, 27, stepped up to claim his first win of the season last Sunday in Detroit. Both are among the favorites heading into Portland, but several other drivers are on the brink of taking their first win this weekend.
Casey Mears (Dorricott Racing/Sooner Trailer Lola) Jason Bright (Dorricott Racing Lola) and Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood Lola) have each made at least one podium (top-three finish) appearance this season and could realistically break into the win column at Portland.
Mears, the 22-year-old nephew of Rick Mears and son of Off-Road racing champion Roger Mears, is off to a typically consistent and competitive start. After steady runs to fifth at Long Beach and Milwaukee, Mears qualified a road course career-best second at Detroit last weekend and finished third in the race. He is second in the championship behind Dixon, 54 - 34, but his proven consistency should keep him in the hunt for the Portland win and the title. He took the championship battle down to the final race of the season last year before his teammate and current Champ Car rookie Oriol Servia prevailed for the title.
While Mears was the Dorricott pacesetter at Detroit, Bright led the team at Long Beach and Milwaukee. The 27-year-old Australian rookie finished second in both races, but failed to score points at Detroit when he hit the wall early in the race. Bright was uninjured but fell to a third-place tie in the championship with Kane at 32 points apiece.
Giaffone, who finished second at Portland in 1998, slipped by Mears at the start of the Detroit race and went on to score the fourth runner-up finish of his career. The 25-year-old Brazilian also finished third in the Long Beach opener and heads to Portland fifth in the championship with 31 points.
Mears leads a record group of nine drivers from the United States in Indy Lights this season, half of the full-time starting field. The lineup includes Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) who teams with fellow Californian Mears and Bright at Dorricott. Other drivers in the stars-and-stripes brigade include Chris Menninga (Mi-Jack Lola), Tony Renna (Motorola/PacWest Lights Lola), Cory Witherill (WSA Healthcare Lola), rookies Todd Snyder (Outpost.com Lola) and Jeff Simmons (KOOL Lola) and brothers Geoff Boss (Cross Pens/Lacoste/ITIS Lola) and Andy Boss (Cross Pens/Lacoste/ITIS Lola).
Menninga, in his second-year as a teammate to Giaffone at Conquest Racing, scored a career-best finish of fourth at Milwaukee, the same race where Renna led the first 34 race laps before retiring with an oil leak. Snyder and Simmons battled for the Barber Dodge Pro Series championship the last two seasons and have now taken their rivalry to Indy Lights. Witherill, a 100% Navajo who is the only full-blooded Native American in major league motorsports, returns to Portland where he made his Indy Lights debut in 1998. The Boss brothers are teammates for the second consecutive year at Lucas Motorsports Ltd.
Next to the United States, Mexico has the most drivers entered in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship at five. The leader of the group is Mario Dominguez (Herdez "Viva Mexico" Lola) who joins Dixon as the only two drivers who have completed every race lap this year. He is also one of five former race winners in the series, a list that also includes Dixon, Kane, Renna and Geoff Boss. Dominguez won the 1999 season-opening race at Homestead last year and crossed the line third at Milwaukee this season to earn his first podium finish since then. He is sixth in the championship with 27 points.
Other drivers from South of the Border include veteran Rodolfo Lavin (Corona/Modelo/SportsYA.com Lola) who will make a record 50th series start this weekend. He debuted at Homestead in 1996 and recorded a career-best finish of seventh at this season's Long Beach opener.
Mexican rookies Rolando Quintanilla (Telmex/Prodigy Internet Lola), Luis Diaz (Quaker State Mexico Lola) and Rudy Junco (Mexpro Lola) complete the Indy Lights field. Quintanilla is the third member of Conquest Racing, Diaz teams with Dominguez at Team Mexico Quaker Herdez while Junco drives for the first-year Team Mexpro operation.